After financial chaos: "Ghost Premier": Truss under pressure

Pressure mounts on UK Prime Minister Liz Truss after humiliating tax reversal.

After financial chaos: "Ghost Premier": Truss under pressure

Pressure mounts on UK Prime Minister Liz Truss after humiliating tax reversal. Polls show that an overwhelming majority of the population and its conservative party members are dissatisfied with the head of government. There is already speculation about a possible successor.

Even the two big tabloids "The Sun" and "Daily Mail", which are usually not averse to the conservative party, published devastating headlines on Tuesday. "Ghost Premier" read the cover of the Sun. There was also a photo of Truss sitting in silence next to her Treasury Secretary Jeremy Hunt in Parliament on Monday. The "Daily Mail" headlined a portrait of the 47-year-old: "In office, but not in power". The comments column said Truss was now a "lame duck" who only clung to her post with her fingertips.

Can resignation still be avoided?

Several members of her own party had already publicly asked Truss to resign. The prime minister campaigned for support in her group on Tuesday. In the morning she chaired a cabinet meeting, later she was expected to meet with the Brexit hardliners of the so-called European Research Group (ERG). One of the crucial factors for her future was how the prime minister should do at the weekly Question Time in Parliament on Wednesday.

Secretary of Defense James Heappey defended Truss in an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, but also warned that "no more mistakes" should now be made. Various scenarios are reportedly being played out in the background as to how Truss can be forced out of office. It is expected that the Tories, as the Conservatives are also known, will initially want to agree on a successor candidate in order to avoid another time-consuming selection process involving questioning of party members.

Will Johnson return?

The favorite is ex-Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss in a runoff among party members in the race to succeed ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the summer. Also considered promising are Secretary of Parliament Penny Mordaunt and Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace. Even Johnson's return is brought into play again and again.

Truss, who has only been in office since last month, recently strictly refused to resign. "I will stay because I was chosen to deliver for this country," Truss said in a BBC interview on Monday. She will also lead the Conservatives into the next election, she added.

But her authority has been severely damaged: Finance Minister Hunt, who only took office on Friday, reversed almost all of the Prime Minister's tax policy plans on Monday. Truss apologized on the BBC for the chaos in the financial markets. She had already fired her previous finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, last Friday. It is questionable whether that will be enough to save her office.

Popularity at rock bottom

As the opinion research institute YouGov announced on Tuesday, only ten percent of Britons have a positive opinion of the head of government. 80 percent see them critically. Ten percent expressed no opinion. Truss is even more unpopular than her scandal-ridden predecessor Johnson ever was during his tenure. Even in the Conservative Party, a majority (55 percent) of respondents said they wanted Truss to resign in a YouGov poll also released Tuesday. Things are hardly looking any better for the Conservative Party overall, which is miles behind the opposition Labor Party in polls.

The conservatives around Truss are in a bind. On the one hand there is little hope that the current party and government leader will get them out of the polling low, on the other hand the second change at 10 Downing Street would make an early general election - and a Labor victory - all but inevitable.

Front page of the Daily Mail BBC tweet Front page of the Sun BBC tweet BBC report on the Truss interview